Our Board of Directors governs policy and direction, ensures financial stability, and assists with the leadership and general promotion of Housing Long Beach so as to support the organization’s mission and needs. We pride ourselves of having a well-rounded board that represents the diversity of Long Beach.
Cynde Soto, Board President
Cynde is a longtime Long Beach community advocate. Born with Arthrogyposis, a connective tissue disorder that significantly limits her physical movement, she became a disability rights advocate at the age of 20, now with over 30 years of experience.
After graduating from Cal State Long Beach with a BFA in Art, Cynde became an employee of the Independent Living Center in Long Beach. Now working as a Systems Change Advocate, Cynde’s job enables her to work for positive policy change concerning people with disabilities.
Cynde’s involvement with HLB began in 2008, ensuring that accessible housing was a priority for our affordable housing message. She is a graduate of the HLB Leadership Academy, and visited Washington D.C. in May 2012 with other HLB leaders to discuss housing issues with Long Beach Members of Congress.
One of Cynde’s many interests includes producing artwork made of “found objects” which have been displayed through Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Hospital. In her own words, “I’ve been asked, ‘why collect broken junk?’ Well, I can relate to these broken and discarded objects as a person with a disability. Someone has decided that the objects I find are no longer useful because they don’t look or function like they used to or should. I, on the other hand, can see their innate beauty and usefulness. Much of society has decided that people with disabilities are dispensable and useless so I feel compelled, driven even, to collect broken discarded objects to organize into beautiful useful artwork. I live my life not as a broken person, but as a useful and integral part of our community.”
Mary Zendejas, Vice-Chair
Mary Zendejas is the Executive Director & Founder of DisABLED Professionals Association and has been a proud Long Beach Resident for over 20 years. She graduated from CSU, Long Beach with a B.A. in Communication Studies. At 8-months old she contracted Polio, and her parents decided to come to the US from Mexico in hopes to provide her with better medical treatments and a chance at a more fulfilling life. Mary has been a wheelchair-user since middle school, and has never let her wheelchair slow her down in any way. In March of 2012, she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair California 2012, and placed 3rd Runner up at Ms. Wheelchair America 2013.
During her reign she traveled throughout California promoting her platform, which was to continuously bring awareness of the importance of higher education and quality employment for people living with Disabilities. In March 2013 she received the “Go Long Beach” award from the City of Long Beach Vice-Mayor, Dr. Robert Garcia. She also was selected as a recipient of the “40 under 40” awards by the Long Beach Post in April 2013. She is fully committed to the betterment of the disability community and is involved in a variety of activities. She is currently the secretary for The Citizens Advisory Commission on Disability for the City of Long Beach. She is also the Director of Community Relations for A.C.E. (Accessible Connections Exchange). In addition, Mary is the President of the American Business Women’s Association/ Diamonds of South Bay. Mary joined the Housing Long Beach Board in July 2013 to continue her investment towards the betterment of the Long Beach community. Every day she is reminded of how proud and grateful she is to be a City of Long Beach Resident.
Sandra Kroll, Secretary
Sandy was born, raised, and educated in Wisconsin. She spent her adult life in other states: briefly in Utah and Minnesota, and then fifty years in California. She retired from teaching after more than 30 years in Long Beach schools, and is now heavily involved in her church and community groups, such as the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless (LBACH), Friends of the Long Beach Library, and the Greater Long Beach Interfaith Community Organization (ICO). It was her church that led her to ICO, which led her to LBACH, which led her to HLB. Sandy is widowed and has one daughter, who lives in San Diego. Sandy loves the culture of Long Beach. She feels privileged to live in a city with such great diversity, weather, and the overall community feeling.
A newcomer to Long Beach, Jon has spent over 20 years advocating for people with disabilities, the homeless and lower income individuals and families. He opened Argenziano Disability Law, a firm dedicated to helping people obtain Social Security Disability benefits, here in Long Beach in 2013. Since coming to California from Boston in 2006, he worked in other Social Security advocacy firms and in Boston, advocated for People Living with HIV (PLHIV), the LGBTQ community and homeless youth. He began his legal career in public interest law at Rhode Island Legal Services, handling public benefits and landlord-tenant matters. During law school Jon spent a semester studying in London, interning at Interights, a Human Rights Advocacy Group. The summer after his second year he worked with ABLE (Advocates for Basic Legal Equality), providing legal assistance to migrant farmworkers in northwestern Ohio. Jon earned his undergraduate degree in International Relations with a concentration in Latin American Studies. He spent his junior year studing in Lima, Peru. His experience in Latin America began when he spent his high school years in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. Jon is thrilled to return to the grassroots advocacy world through Housing Long Beach!